This is more of a book review than a film preview. It comes down to the fact that we’ve read this book, it was all kinds of awesome (whilst we are not normally given to superlatives, the term mind-blowing would not be over-stating things), and we have learned through the grapevine that the film of the book is coming to a cinema near you soon. Which is pretty exciting.
OK – so first the book. It was written and self-published by Islamic convert Michael Muhammad Knight in 2003; the story soon gained a huge cult following and was taken up by mainstream publishers a year later. We read it at one sitting, mouths agog: it is in equal parts funny, gripping, moving, disturbing and educational. It is also very well penned: Knight is an accomplished writer. It tells the story of mild mannered Yusef, who comes to lodge in a household of fellow Muslims whilst he studies in Buffalo, New York. But regular Muslims these ain’t: his house mates comprise (to quote from the Taqwacore website):
burqa-wearing riot girls, mohawked Sufis, straightedge Sunnis, Shi’a skinheads, Indonesian skaters, Sudanese rude boys, gay Muslims, drunk Muslims, and feminists. Their living room hosts parties and prayers, with a hole smashed in the wall to indicate the direction of Mecca. Their life together mixes sex, dope, and religion in roughly equal amounts, expressed in devotion to an Islamo-punk subculture, “taqwacore,” named for taqwa, an Arabic term for consciousness of the divine.
The Taqwacores has proved to be, er, a tad controversial. Reactions have ranged from rapture to book burning and banishment. But on the eve of Ramadan, and at a time when the EDL are planning all kinds of bonkers marches through London, and following the appalling events in Norway just a week or so ago, there is no doubt that there is room for a fresh look at and take on Islam. Because Muslims cannot all be tarred with the same brush.
The film promises to be just as provocative and just as unmissable: you can watch a trailer here. Drop us a line and let us know what you think. It opens in the UK on 12th August.